Undiluted neem oil for head lice--now what?

by Lisa
(Richmond VA)

After 2 Nix treatments and countless hours of combing with lice combs, she had discovered a live bug this morning in her hair. So I switched to neem oil.

I just applied undiluted neem oil directly onto my 15 year old daughter's scalp to treat head lice. We left the oil in her hair for more than an hour, then she shampooed her hair.

To say that it stinks is a huge understatement. I nearly threw-up, and our bathroom is nearly uninhabitable. I combed thoroughly and found maybe one tiny dead louse.

The problem now is how to get her hair to stop smelling and being so oily. At first she didn't use any conditioner because I figured her hair was oily enough. Then I read here somewhere that a regular conditioner with other good-smelling oils would be good.

My poor daughter has to return to boarding school, which, of course, is where she picked the lice up. Help! She can't go out in public, looking and smelling as she does now!

Comments for Undiluted neem oil for head lice--now what?

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Neem oil stinks but it sure knocks the lice...
by: Birgit

Hi Lisa,
I am confident that you will find that the neem oil did knock those lice. Or you would have discovered the first case of resistance to neem oil in about 5000 years of history.

Head lice and mites are the most susceptible critters of all when it comes to neem oil.

As for your daughter's hair, using that much oil will obviously require a lot of shampooing to get rid of. I often add neem oil and olive oil to my hair treatments, just because it's so good for my hair and scalp, and that also takes a long time to wash out.

I think you grossly underestimate the amount of soap/shampoo required to dissolve that much oil. If the hair is still oily you didn't wash it enough. Just keep shampooing and rinsing until it's gone. Most of the smell will be gone then, too. Though yes, some will linger.

In my experience it lingers until the next wash but is only noticeable if my hair gets damp (sweating) and if I wear it open and shake it. I just keep it plaited after a treatment.

The good thing about the lingering smell is that it will prevent reinfection from the boarding school. Unfortunately, as soon as the last hint of neem is gone she may bring new head lice home...

Neem Shampoo continually?
by: Anonymous

Thanks for your response. After the intense neem oil treatment yesterday and hours of combing, I awoke early this morning to take my daughter back to boarding school. Her head itched and she combed through and found a live louse!!! I was shocked and discouraged. We continued to comb and found nothing. I had to go ahead and take her back to boarding school. After I arrived there, I combed for more than an hour and still found nothing, no nits, no lice. I have to believe that the one this morning came from some bedding or clothing item.

Of course, now that she is relatively lice-free, her dorm is fairly infested. Should she use the neem shampoo continually for a while? Any other thoughts? She plans to comb and check at least daily. Her hair will be up in a bun until further notice!

Thanks! What fun!

Not Anonymous
by: Lisa

The comment above was from Lisa. Thanks!

Yes, shampoo will definitely help
by: Birgit

Hi Lisa,

Fun indeed, I can imagine!
Yes, I would certainly continue to use neem shampoo. I hope you can find a good, strong one. If it also has tea tree oil and other oils, all the better, because those help repelling the lice as well. If her dorm is badly infested she'll be struggling.

You did talk to the boarding school and demand they do something about that, didn't you? If there is a problem at the school and that is not addressed, then everybody will continue to have problems.

What you describe is overall very strange: itching (maybe all the washing and combing is irritating the scalp? also the previous Nix treatments...), still finding a live louse (I agree that it likely came from elsewhere. You should always eradicate lice from all the surrounds as well...), as I said, highly unusual.

I hope you can get on top of the problem!

by: Anonymous

If you are having problems getting rid of the oil, buy a shampoo from a salon and make sure it is a clarifying shampoo. Every company sells it. It gets rid of build up ex. chlorine, left over product in hair and of course oils.

Be careful if you have bleached hair because over use can cause breakage, but at the same time if neem oil does what its supposed to do, your hair should be stronger.

I suggest just use it to get rid of the oil, maybe to shampoo 2-3 times. Then, if needed, use it again, once a week. Good luck.

Your friendly and stylist.

Washing essential oils out of your hair
by: Anonymous

Just add a tablespoon of baking soda to the shampoo in the palm of your hand. Lather and scrub your hair and scalp. Works great to get most of oil treatment out (fractionated coconut oil, olive oil, essential oils like neem and karanja, cedarwood, peppermint, spearmint, etc.)

Wetting hair with cider vinegar before washing loosens the "cement" that holds nits to the hair shaft. Comb with nit comb after soaking hair and scalp for 15-20 mins. Then treat vinegary hair with your oil treatment, then shampoo.

I found a resistance to Neem Oil!
by: Anonymous

I was so certain to find that Neem Oil would work. But when I found several lice while brushing out my hair, I was disappointed. I left it on overnight with a showercap over my head and I washed it out the next day. Guess I'll go back to the old style method of brushing.

Getting Neem Oil Smell out of Hair
by: Chris

Can't imagine how anything could survive being smothered with neem oil. Used it for plaque psoriasis on scalp & my shoulder-length hair WREAKS!. Applied on scalp last night; helped with itching but the smell kept me up all night. Allergies started this morning and neem smell made them worse (no relief from Claratin.) Scalp started itching again...by end of day both scalp and hair were completely saturated with neem...talk about stink!

Showered & shampooed 4x - 2 w/T-Sal (contains salicylic acid to help remove plaques & usually leaves hair very dry) & 2 w/Matrix Biolage; mixed Brocato Cloud Nine/Biolage Conditioning Balm & left on 5 minutes. Finished w/Biolage Instacure (leave-in conditioner) Scalp/hair still stinks but not as bad. Being a licensed cosmetologist my next resort is baking soda in shampoo & conditioning treatment. If that doesnt work I have one more trick up my sleeve. Will keep you posted....

Vinegar is great for getting rid of neem oil
by: Anonymous

After you shampoo twice try rinsing your hair with vinegar and water,(3 or 4 spoons per 200ml water if neem oil is that hard to remove, but if you have no oil on your hair 2 spoons is enough, too much can dry your hair).

I never used neem oil but vinegar is a pretty great natural clarifier, it cleans everything, dandruff, chemical build up from shampoo, it's great. You hair becomes as light as a feather and really shiny, it also feels very clean and smooth, it gets rid of frizz, unlike regular shampoo which makes me look like a poodle. Why pay 40 bucks for a "professional" clarifying shampoo when you can use apple cider vinegar?

If your hair smells like vinegar just use a hair mask/treatment that smells nice to cover the neem oil and vinegar smell. I use a coconut hair mask after rinsing my hair and it smells great, no hint of vinegar whatsoever.

Another reason why you should use rich hair masks after rinsing with water and vinegar is that the hair and scalp absorbs the mask so much better because they're completely clean.

A disadvantage would be that since the vinegar cleans you hair so well it's going to be really easy for the lice to stick their nits to it...But it's good if you just want to get rid of the neem oil out of your hair.

Neem Oil is AWESOME
by: Anonymous

Why would you send your daughter? Don't you care about her? Obviously the place is filled with parasites and way to go boosting her self esteem. What's wrong with going in public smelling like bad Chinese? Are you ashamed of your daughter if she doesn't smell like the rest of the lice headed cookie cutter kids at that "ship away and not have to deal with your own Kids" school?

BTW Neem Oil is AWESOME!

Head Lice
by: Anonymous

I can't seem to find this neem oil anywhere except online and before I pay the extra money for next day air mail can someone please reassure me that this stuff is awesome at getting rid of lice and eggs?

Also, how much do I need to soak my daughter's hair in? (they only sell it in 1 ounce bottles)and for how long should it soak in her hair?

Neem Doesn't Kill
by: Anonymous

From my understanding neem works by making parasites unable to reproduce. I don't think it would actually kill thee lice (I might be wrong), but instead makes it so they can’t lay eggs and so the eggs laid don't hatch. I have no doubt it would get rid of lice as it won’t continue if it can't reproduce.

Tea Tree?
by: Anonymous

Instead of just pure neem oil to get rid of lice mix it with some tea tree oil. It works every time. But leave it in for more than an hour otherwise the lice will still be alive. The smell isn't as bad with the tea tree and there's less of an oily hair problem too :)

I am black and have lice
by: Anonymous

I am black and I have lice and my hair is braided so we can’t see the lice but I feel it moving on my scalp. I tried a lot of treatment and my hair will stop itching for a day and the next day where we go again!, I really don’t know what to do anymore and I am in a boarding school where the nurse can’t see the lice because I got checked many times but she just doesn’t see it, so I decided to take care of this on my own. I really wish the neem oil shampoo works. I am really desperate: /

Keep using the neem!
by: Stephanie

Neem oil is awesome...judging others, not helpful. Pay no mind to those who do...

Keep using the neem; put some in her regular shampoo bottle as well, along with a little tea tree oil and some lavender essential oil. All will repel and/or kill the lice, and the lavender will help with the smell. Apple cider vinegar rinses are helpful too.

kill lice and smell
by: celeste

we had tried everything I mean everything from over the counter medications to every or oil you can imagine to olive oil. this neem oil works it killed the lice about 20 of them were in the bathtub I had a few leftover that I guess had that hatched that night. the way I kill the smell was I did a 50/50 of neem oil and olive oil and then I did about 20 drops of lavender and one drop of cinnamon. when we washed her hair out there was a hint of neem oil that you can also smell lavender so it wasn't as disgusting

Worked fine for me
by: Anouk

I've been itching for a while, and not being sure it was lice, I figured I might as well just treat with neem oil and see if it improved. Massaged in a generous amount and washed 3 times with a fairly large amount of shampoo,then all the oil was gone. I only smelled it when my hair blew right in front of my face. A few hours later my mother checked and found no louse or nit - note that I didn't comb at all. Combed through then and still nothing. Quite sure it was lice since my sister turned out to have it too, but all mine were gone with just one treatment.

by: Anonymous

Thank you for all the helpful tips and advice. I am about to try treating my son for persistently recurrent lice. Please advise me as to the correct proportions of neem oil, and how much tea tree oil I may add safely. I suspect I should dilute both as they are both neat.
Much appreciated. To the black girl at boarding school: I wish you all the best. I am mixed and there is no way anyone can do a visual check or a comb through with a nit comb in my hair. The other young lady's story of her successful treatment with no combing has given me hope!

Currently using Neem Oil
by: Anonymous

I got a terrible lice infestation from my grandchildren and have been fighting the lice for over a year by trying everything I read about. I now use Neem Oil by satuating my hair every evening with parts of Neem Oil, Tree Tree Oil and Lavendar. I massage my scalp for at a long time and put the shower cap on and sleep in it all night. It does not instantly kill the lice but I can see a big difference in the population and the look of them as I comb them out. There are less and less and because of Neem oil they have changed their color. I can see the oil is working on their extroskeletal body and some of them are drying up. I do feel a bite here or there but it is getting less and less. My advise is to be patient because Neem Oil does work and it will eradicate those resistant buggers eventually.

give it time!
by: Anonymous

Neem oil does work. I suggest still combing out any lice and eggs you see after treatment. We use coconut oil and neem oil mix. The lice will not reproduce or eat anymore and will eventually die. I don't think it kills them on contact. This is a natural treatment not a chemical.

You should not be using pure neem oil
by: Anonymous

15% or so should be fine. And yeah, adding tea tree can't hurt and smells better.
(also, to respond to someone else, the studies I've read show an affect on all stages in lice lifecycle)

sorry, at least 20% required
by: Anonymous

Reading a bit more it looks like 20% or higher is required to kill adult lice.

Obviously the more concentrated the more effect it is going to have. But I still can't see going over a 1:1 oil:shampoo ratio.

by: Sherie

My daughter, now adult, had head lice once through her entire education. Having to treat her long thick curly hair was a nightmare. A friend who worked in a daycare told us to use tea tree oil in a spray bottle each morning (just a drop or two) to wet down her hair. As I did this every morning anyway it was no effort. She the smell because she grew up with it, but she reached for it last night when we heard her daycare was infested. Good part is once hair is dry you don't smell it. I never knew my friend used tea tree. I have used neem too and both work, but tea tree is better for long term prevention.

lice treatment neem
by: Anonymous

I use neem on my vegetable plants. From what I understand it smells so bad bugs run away. After I spray my plants I stop seeing bites in the leaves. It works great and it is all natural. So I imagine it would work the same on lice. They will want out of there. Just add tea tree, peppermint, cedar oil, lavender with it so it doesn't smell so bad. TeaTree oil actually kills them.

Not sure if neem oil works...
by: Anonymous

Reading these comments, not sure if neem oil works. Some people are saying it works really well, some are saying it does not work at all and they keep finding lice, some are saying it takes time, some are saying it kills instantly. I'm assuming it only works for some people, but I just need someone to verify if this thing actually works. Had lice for about a couple of months. First used a product called Licener. Got rid of it but a couple weeks later, I got it again. Used Licener again but still feel kind of itchy. Hoping neem oil will work...

how to rinse out neem oil from you hair effectively
by: Geoffrey

I found the most efficient way to wash out neem oil, or any oil for that matter, is dish washing soap. Although it's probably not the best thing for your hair, it cuts through the grease like a hot knife through butter! And if you're worried about what to do after just put some conditioner in it.

Does neem oil get rid off only the eggs
by: Anonymous

I have only eggs in my hair. I feel really disgusted as I need to go college. I have several eggs in each strand of hair. Does neem oil help to get rid off only the eggs??

neem & apple cider vinegar
by: M.W.S.

Neem smells, but smells far better than the hard core poisons big pharm pushes, is cheaper by far as a bottle (just need a tablespoon full or two,) will do many treatments, and indeed is best used in conjuction with a before and after cider vinegar rinse. Viva getting out side of the corporate lock boxes, where humans may rejoin humanity.

Neem oil
by: Anonymous

There's different types of neem oil. You need the oil extracted from the seeds not the leaves for it to be effective on head lice. Maybe that is why half of everyone is saying it worked and the other half is saying it didn't work. Scientific research has been done and they have concluded that neem oil is highly effective when combined with the necessary house work involved in being rid of lice

Using neem oil on bleached hair for psoriasis
by: Irene, North Heath, Kent

Hi can anyone tell me if the colour of my hair after being highlighted with bleach will be affected by using neem oil that I would like to use on 2 small patches of dry scalp that I have on my scalp. It was not caused by bleach, it was there beforehand. Have already tried lavender and tea tree for psoriasis. Didn't help but I do prefer essential oils.

Thanks so much
Irene (North Heath, Kent)

Way to kill Lice without harsh chemicals NEW
by: Anonymous

The only way to beat lice is to understand the life cycle. My process works fast (within 2 - 3 weeks completely gone)
Every morning throw the bed sheets and pjs in the dryer for 20 minutes. Don't waste time vacuuming - put that time toward looking for nits. Do a quick check in the morning for nits and cut the hair strands with nits off and throw away in a Ziploc bag. Every evening when you get home, strip, and throw your clothing directly into the washing machine. Put on underwear only and do a thorough look for nits, one small section of hair at a time, cut nits out, dispose of in ziploc. Wash your hair with tea tree oil shampoo and conditioner to keep lice away. Every three to four days, rinse your hair with Listerine (must have alcohol in it). This kills anything that might hatch before it becomes an adult that can reproduce. Careful not to get Listerine in your eyes! Wash your hair immediately after the rinse and use tea tree oil shampoo/conditioner. Buy a 'stick' (similar to deodorant) that repels lice, and apply to the back of the neck, around the ears and top of the head. Check Walgreens. Look in these areas first every day for nits since the lice will not want to travel far on a head that smells like tea tree oil.

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